In its four years, American Horror Story has gone through some cyclical storytelling, hitting on the same beats time and again, sometimes intentionally and sometimes probably less so. “Showstoppers” felt like a Mad Libs version of last week’s episode that was filled out, cut up, and pasted back together behind one’s back. But it brought Danny Huston into it again, so I’ve got to HAND them that.

”Steal her jewelry and bury that bitch.”

I’ve hated Emma Roberts’ characters for two seasons now, and it was legitimately all washed away tonight by watching her get sawed in half by Chester the Murderer That Nobody Tries to Apprehend. Regardless of how off the rails this season has been, Neil Patrick Harris has added the tonally correct amount of psycho tomfoolery that makes this show a genuine pleasure. Still, his arc this week didn’t really change much. He wants to incorporate the saw-in-half trick to his act with the twins, but Dandy arrived with damning info about Chester, and now they don’t want to cooperate. And for no real reason whatsoever, Emma Roberts is like, “Hey, I’ll do it, guy who clearly shouldn’t be handling a toothed weapon.”

In a scene that at first looked like it was going to turn into one of the heightened performances that were used earlier in the season, Chester gets quite confused about the trick, mistaking Emma Roberts for his wife, her girlfriend and then Marjorie, his one true love. Rather than a magical illusion, we get an intestine-drooping murder. And everyone just stares agog as he at first denies his heinous act, and then as he has his mental breakthrough, and then as he leaves the scene of the crime. There’s no reason to murder him, though, since she wasn’t really one of the freaks, as Desiree makes clear.

There was no burial for Marjorie though. Chester flips his lid when she…tries to leave…which I assume was really just him packing up small clothes and putting them into a small suitcase. He stabs her a bunch of times and imagines her dying this bloody-mouthed death, much like Emma Roberts, and then he goes into a police station and confesses his crimes. He also asked cops to help him concerning Marjorie last week. I’m really not sure how this guy managed to survive all of those post-war years.

Hail to the Monster-in-Chief

While the phrasing above was meant for the doctor who led the group that cut off Elsa’s legs (and also tortured Danny Huston), it’s just as good a title for Elsa, whose days would seemingly be numbered had the show not already flash-forwarded to her fame in later years. That fact made the whole “Us freaks are sure gonna kill Elsa” plotline limp, as we knew nothing too terrible would happen to her. I guess maybe we’re supposed to empathize with her as she realizes her beloved freaks no longer look to her as a mother figure; but no, that’s not going to happen here.

Last week, we watched Elsa sell the Cabinet of Curiosities to Chester the Wacko Maniac with Too Much Disposable Money, and this week, we get to watch her sell it once more, only to Dandy this time. Is it in the contract that this place has to be owned and operated by an insane murderer? I guess she left Danny Huston a note? I mean, I know he’s incapable of love and everything, but she might want a friend.

One of Us! One of Us!

When American Horror Story: Freak Show gives viewers a pop culture reference, it often lobs it with little room for erroneous recognition. Tonight, we got to see the tables turn on the manipulative turd Stanley. After the movie Freaks is brought up and its plot is explained, we get to watch the entire freak show hunt a bleeding Stanley down in the mud and rain. And I didn’t quite get why his demise wasn’t shown, especially for a show that frolics through gore, but it all became clear later on, when Dandy finds Stanley in his pen, in the role of the new Meep.

No fooling, I think that was the scariest moment of the season for me. Not because it startled or frightened me at the time, but because I spent the next half-hour thinking about what it would be like to go through that. Having everything literally ripped away and replaced with a feather suit. It is to shudder.

It all ends next week, people. And Jimmy has some great wooden lobster claws to live his life with. High two!

Other Thoughts Floating Beneath the Big Top

Who had someone calling Elsa a “sour Kraut” on their AHS Bingo cards?

A character on this TV show, who had his balls tortured in WWII, is an expert at crafting wooden appendages. Just saying.

“If I was you, I’d get the hell out of Dodge before I get those new hands.” Wait, Mr. Pronouns, were you still being Emma Roberts in that scenario? Is she getting new hands, too?

“Not the Sign of the Cross again.” Everyone’s a critic.

I mean, I get why they killed the museum woman, but it’s kind of ridiculous just how much unpunished murder happens on this show.

I like how the relatively normal Eve congratulates Jimmy on the “normal” life, as if having a pair of ornate wooden hands is how everyone’s doing it these days.

“I have no hands!!!” Subbing for the role of Jimmy Darling tonight, we have Buster Bluth.

If you blow a kiss at Bette, she catches it inside her eyeballs apparently.

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